Fire at Charles Addams Hall

The venerable church was to have "an exterior essentially unchanged, but an interior completely transformed through the use of the nave and sanctuary to create studios, classrooms and a gallery....". And thus the former Asbury Methodist Church on Chestnut Street would become Penn's Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall, the gift of the Lady Colyton, honoring the famous cartoonist who was her former husband and one of Penn's best-loved alumni. Almost two years' work was nearing completion, with word-of-mouth reports that this would be a spectacular success.

But Sunday afternoon it all went up in smoke as a four-alarm fire of unknown origin devoured the structure, damaging it so severely that only the stone walls were left standing on Chestnut Street between 33rd and 34th Streets. No one was hurt, however, as over 100 firemen battled the blaze.

Dean Gary Hack of the Graduate School of Fine Arts held out little hope of salvage Monday at presstime, as the Philadelphia Fire Marshal and representatives of Licenses & Inspections began investigating the cause of the fire and the condition of the site--partly to determine whether it is safe to leave the damaged walls standing or remove them immediately for safety.


Volume 43 Number 25
March 11, 1997

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